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Check out my favorite 30 healthy Ramadan recipes that I enjoy making every year during the holy month of Ramadan. Below is a list of Middle Eastern foods that all have a simple modern take and provide great nutrition while fasting.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During this holy month, Muslims fast and abstain from food and water during sunlight hours. We do this every day for 30 days.
Fasting helps to cleanse the soul, teach self-discipline and empathy for those less fortunate, and encourage acts of generosity. There’s so much more on this topic online. And I can provide more amazing resources if anyone’s interested. I want to focus on the health aspects and Ramadan recipes today.
What are the health benefits of fasting?
There are amazing mental benefits that come from this month-long ritual of sacrifice and self-discipline. But here are some common physiological benefits as well:
- Lose weight. By skipping lunch and not eating until the sunset, you will most likely consume less calories and less fat throughout the month. This may result in weight loss. I usually lose 5 pounds and keep it off for at least a few months.
- Lower blood sugar. One of the immediate effects of fasting is lowered blood sugar. And that can also result in lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. All that means better cardiovascular health!
- Detoxify your body. Not eating or drinking during the day is a method of detoxing your body naturally. It gives your digestive system a chance to cleanse itself.
- Reduce appetite. I’m always surprised by how little food I actually need to feel full when I break my fast. During the month, many people notice an appetite reduction.That’s so important because it can help you restructure your relationship with food, and limit overindulgence.
- Improve metabolism. By skipping meals during the day, your metabolism may become more efficient. We’re giving our digestive system a break. That makes it more efficient. And that means it can better process the nutrients in the food we eat.
How do you stay healthy during Ramadan?
- Wake up for ‘Suhoor.’ This is the meal eaten before dawn. It can help you get more nutrients in your body.
- Have well-balanced meals. Make sure each of the two meals includes complex carbs, high fiber food and protein rich foods. These well-balanced meals will help you replenish energy.
- Drink plenty of fluids. You can also do this by eating water-dense fruits or soups. The goal is to consume the equivalent of 8 cups of water to avoid dehydration. I know it’s hard, but try to limit the caffeine, which can stimulate water loss.
- Cut down on processed foods and those with refined carbs such as sugar and white flour. They don’t have much nutrients and will not give you the energy and nutrition your body is craving.
- Break your fast with dates and water. An average serving of dates has 31 grams of carbs. That will give you the right amount of energy after a long day of fasting. They have high levels of fiber for digestion, and are packed with potassium, magnesium and Vitamin B.
My top 30 healthy Ramadan recipes
Authentic Middle Eastern salads
One of my favorite Ramadan recipes is one that my mom literally makes every single day during the month. It’s a Fattoush Salad that is made with simple fresh vegetables and toasted pita bread then tossed in a zesty sumac Mediterranean dressing! It’s an authentic recipe I know you’ll love!
Another very popular salad is this traditional Lebanese Tabouli Salad. It’s a fresh Mediterranean appetizer made with bulgur, parsley, mint and very finely chopped vegetables. Because it doesn’t include lettuce, you can make a large batch and enjoy for 2-3 days without the salad wilting.
And be sure to try the Chicken Shawarma Salad – a salad that is actually a whole meal loaded grilled chicken smothered in shawarma spices and Middle Eastern style vegetables – it’s low-carb, high protein and the perfect meal!
Classic Ramadan soup recipes
The most popular soup recipe during Ramadan is this Crushed Lentil Soup. It is actually one of my all-time favorite soup recipes and I love to make it all year long. It’s made with red lentils, short-grain rice, onions, carrots, and cumin and topped with the tangy taste of freshly squeezed lemon juice – comforting, delicious and healthy!
Another popular soup during Ramadan is Chicken Noodle Soup with a Middle Eastern twist by using vermicelli pasta. It’s a classic soup recipe that’s easy to make with simple ingredients and stocked with nutrients for the cold season or the hungry fasting soul!
For more hearty, easy and nourishing soups, try the Vegetarian Lemon Rice Soup recipe and the Mediterranean White Bean Soup recipe. They’re both loaded with vegetables like onions, carrots and celery, and use simple everyday ingredients.
Best Ramadan appetizer recipes
Stuffed grape leaves (warak arish) are a Mediterranean classic recipe made with short grain rice, parsley, tomatoes and onions – my favorite appetizer and very popular to eat during Ramadan. This is the vegetarian version. But I’ve also shared the meat stuffed grape leaves recipe which is made with a spiced ground beef and rice mixture.
And you can never go wrong with hummus! It’s always a great recipe to include during Ramadan meals. I feel confident to say this is the Best Hummus Recipe – it’s simple and classic with the right balance of flavors. In this post I share my 4 tips for making smooth, creamy and ultra rich hummus. I also have Hummus with Ground Beef – which when served with pita is a meal on its own!
Be sure to try Zaatar Spring Rolls (Sambousek) – one of my favorite Ramadan recipes! They are oven-baked and have a similar texture and flavor to Middle Eastern cheese sambousek. Sambousek are small cheese-filled pastries that are traditionally fried.
And don’t forget the Halloumi Fries – my Lebanese take on mozzarella sticks, using halloumi cheese instead! These halloumi fries are made by rolling the cheese in flour, panko breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. Then, instead of frying them, I bake them in the oven until golden and crispy.
Suhoor Ramadan recipes
Suhoor is a great time to enjoy breakfast recipes and ones that will keep you feeling energized and full throughout the day. Because this meal happens so early, I recommend preparing your meal the night before so it’s ready to enjoy when you wake up without prep work. Overnight oats are the best solution for that! You can enjoy them cold or warmed with endless topping possibilities
And you can’t go wrong with Zaatar Manakeesh. It’s a Mediterranean flatbread that’s made with dough and zaatar spice. It’s an easy recipe to make from scratch using very few ingredients and we often serve it with Arabic cheese, Labneh and fresh vegetables. Be sure to wash and chop the vegetables the night before.
Two other great options for suhoor that you can prep in advance include Ful Medames (cooked fava beans and cumin, topped with a garlicky, lemon olive oil sauce) and Oatmeal Breakfast Bars, which you can customize with any add-ins you like including nuts, raisins, etc.
Main dishes for Ramadan
If you’re looking for some protein-rich meals, try Chicken Kafta or Beef Kafta – both made with ground chicken or beef along with parsley, onions and spices. They both pair really well with my authentic Lebanese Rice.
If you’re looking for some handheld options that you can make with pita bread and veggies, be sure to try my popular Falafel or Shawarma, or Shish Tawook recipes. You can pair them with either my Garlic Sauce or Tahini Sauce.
For a hearty meal the whole family will enjoy, try one of my traditional Arabic stews including Peas and Carrots Stew, Tomato Beef Stew, or Spinach Stew. They’re all nutritious with robust flavors of cilantro, garlic and veggies and you can make them all vegetarian easily.
For a great vegan entree, try this Mujadara recipe. It’s a traditional Middle Eastern recipe that’s made with three ingredients: lentils, rice and onions. It’s inexpensive to make, delicious and nutritious.
Favorite Ramadan desserts
Going all day without eating makes you craves sweets so be sure to leave a little room for dessert. Try the Sfouf recipe – a Middle Eastern semolina turmeric cake, made with simple ingredients, no eggs and no butter. It’s vegan-friendly, light and simply delightful! It’s also very delightful to have with coffee after you’ve had dinner.
Another popular Middle Eastern dessert recipe during the month of Ramadan is Kanafa – layered shredded dough and mozzarella cheese soaked with syrup.
Other great treats to enjoy after breaking your fast include Almond Milk Rice Pudding – an easy Middle-Eastern dessert recipe that is dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free along with buttery Date Cookies that are sweet, nutty, chewy and completely irresistible with a cup of coffee!
There are strong health benefits associated with fasting for Ramadan if done right. Hope this post gave you some insight into how to honor this month, stay energized, and cook some healthy Ramadan recipes this year.
Ramadan Mubarek and hope you enjoy these Ramadan recipes 🙂